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A targeted and personalised method for triggering the body’s immune response could transform how we treat cancer. Thanks to a grant from the European Research Council (ERC), an inspired idea has been developed in the lab and turned into a ground-breaking commercial opportunity.
New families of proteins and enzymes will enable the development of novel plant-based biomaterials, potentially providing viable sustainable and renewable alternatives to plastics and other fossil-fuel-derived materials and chemicals.
ELECTION SERIES #2
Because the European Parliament represents such a diverse group of people, with different cultural and political backgrounds, it is the perfect ground to understand how gender equality operates in the halls of power. ERC grantee Johanna Kantola and her team have shadowed many members of Parliament and their teams, to study gender practices and policies inside Europe’s legislative machine.
In only three years’ time, Dr Jan Tkač went from being the first ERC grantee in Slovakia to obtaining the “2015 Scientist of the Year” award. His research in the field of glyconomics could emerge as a turning point for the diagnosis of cell-related diseases.
Why do so many diabetes patients develop kidney disease, and how can we improve prevention? EU-funded research has examined insulin-related processes at play in impaired renal function — and it may have found a way to protect key cells that help to filter our blood.
The link between capital inputs and success in life are broadly accepted, but very rarely discussed. Professor Jani Erola is using his ERC funding to explore the sociological implications of this relationship. His research concentrates on the complex interaction between a family’s resources and children’s success over the course of their lives: examining how families act collectively to determine the next generation’s achievements. Prof. Erola is a speaker at the 18th World Congress of the International Sociological Association (ISA) which opens on 13th of July in Yokohama, Japan.
In Bratislava, the team of Dr Ján Tkáč is developing the weapons to fight back in a cellular ‘cold war’ by using new early-detection technologies – helped by the first ERC grant awarded in Slovakia. Glycans are sugar molecules that carry the information human cells need to stay healthy and fight infections. Information rich, and with sophisticated storage and coding commands, they are a vital early-warning system for triggering an organism’s natural defensive systems at the first sign of attack. So it is not surprising that infectious pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, and cell-related diseases such as cancers, have developed subterfuges to bypass this first line of defence. For example, HIV viruses do this by cracking the glycan’s molecular code, and stealing its identity – allowing the pathogen to go unrecognised by cells until the infection is well advanced.
The peoples of the Balkans' region have long shared an "entangled" and tumultuous history. A visit to the Western Balkans shows how deep the scars of the bloodsheds of the 1990s have been in this part of the world. The scale of violence has exceeded our common understanding with human rights' abuses, massacres, torture, rapes and ethnic cleansing from all sides. With such context in mind, one would have thought that Balkan history could have been studied from a "relational" or "transnational" perspective, to which it seems historically predisposed. But this has rarely been the case.